As a former Ms. American Rose National Queen, as well as a national pageant judge, I know it's important to have attractive nails for photos and personal appearances. Even if you wear acrylic nails, every once in a while, you have to remove the sculpture to allow the nails to heal and breathe. It can be difficult to grow beautiful nails, but the effort is well worth it.
First, take a look at your diet. Your diet should include plenty of fresh, clean water as well as protein and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps you digest protein. A couple of glasses of skim milk, with a little Knox gelatin powder mixed in and an orange a day will truly help.
Also, keep your nails out of water. Water expends the keratin of your nails, only to leave the nail vulnerable when they finally dehydrate. I keep a bottle of carrot and almond oil in a plastic squeeze bottle on my sink. This is much more effective than the traditional hand cream application after washing hands. Also, it's a great idea to apply sunscreen to nails. The sun can seriously bleach and damage nail beds.
When using rubber gloves, take them off frequently, so that acidic perspiration does not harm your nails. Use a waxy, not a creamy cuticle cream at night. Wax adheres better and waterproofs your nails even further. Sometimes, nails are just too weak for polish. Use your wax until they heal, but then use a hardener at all times, carefully avoiding the cuticle. Do not over-manicure your cuticles; they will look raw and ugly.